Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TV Show: "Young Germany"

The state-run TV guys here in Germany produced a 90-minute documentary of historical background on the last one-hundred years of Germany.  Yesterday (Easter Monday).....it played up to the 8:00PM time slot.

It was an awkward way of telling German history.  First, there's this limitation of one hundred years.  Second, it's told by two moderators or narrators....both around seventeen or eighteen years old.....talking to each other, rather than the camera.  It felt like two teenagers talking gossip over an afternoon....historical gossip.  Third, while they had a great deal of historical footage and pictures from the database.....they continually wove soap-opera-like video of themselves in the historical piece.....made to fit the older video shots. Yeah, kinda like reality TV.  Fourth....after a while, I came to realize that they emphasizing history from the prospective of a teenager at the time....not from a historian's view.  Fifth?  Cherry-picking.  There were two segments where the anti-nuclear stance of German youth were brought up (late 1950s and early 1970s).....yet they decided that the Bader-Meinhof gang era would not even be mentioned.

The network guys took up the issue that most German teenagers don't care about German history, and tried to make something "cool" and direct to the thinking of a teenager.

On a scale of one to ten.....historically speaking....I give the show a "five".  The cherry-picking bothers me, and the attempt to make this all "cool"....mostly failed.

But here's the curious thing.  From the age-group of fourteen to twenty-one.....the age group that ARD is pushing the show across to.....I would imagine that less than five-percent of the country's youth watch their network on any given evening.  Most prefer the commercial networks, with live action, or reality shows.

Last night's viewership?  I'd take a guess that less than 2,000 German teenagers watched the show.....most had better choices or were enjoying the day outside.  The bulk of the viewers?  My humble opinion is that the bulk were people over the age of sixty, and kinda remember things in a slightly different fashion.....thus getting into arguments and discussion over the method of telling the history story involved.

A failure?  No.  What will happen is that most German school teachers trying to teach German history.....will get a DVD of the show, and incorporate it into the class structure over the years to come.  It might provoke some class discussion, and at least bring kids one notch higher than they are today.  Even lousy historical items like this.....have some value.  

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